Gruden: Thompson and Thomas need to find a way to get healthy again

Chris Thompson is battling a lower ankle sprain and could miss another five to six days.  (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Running back Chris Thompson is battling a lower ankle sprain and could miss another five to six days of action. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND – The Washington Redskins have two players that seem to possess great potential in 2013 draft picks Chris Thompson and Phillip Thomas. But injuries cut both players’ rookie seasons short, and coaches haven’t gotten to see much from them in training camp either as both are nursing injuries again.

Thompson, a former fifth-round pick competing for the team’s third-down running back job, missed a second day of practice on Sunday with a low ankle sprain. Gruden said trainers expect Thompson to miss another five to six days of action. It’s the latest in a long run of injury problems for Thompson, who hasn’t played a full season since his sophomore year at Florida State.

Thomas, a former fourth-round pick, is vying for playing time behind starting strong safety Brandon Meriweather. Coaches want him to eventually take over for Meriweather, but they don’t know when that will happen. Thomas missed all of last season with a Lisfranc injury that required surgery and already is playing catch-up. But making matters worse is the fact that he now has not practiced fully since injuring his hamstring on July 31.

Both players badly want to play. But both say they know it’s important for them to be patient so they can play at a high level.

But Gruden seemed to issue pointed warnings to both players when asked about their plights on Sunday.

“It’s disappointing,” Gruden said when asked about Thompson’s inability to stay on the field. “It’s unfortunate for him because he was progressing very well, and he needs the reps to do what we’re going to ask him to do on game day, and if he’s not available to get these reps, that’s going to hurt his progress. But injuries happen, and unfortunately, for him, it seems like more often than not. He’s got to figure out how to stay healthy.”

Gruden’s stance on Thomas was very similar. The coach acknowledged that the players are in difficult situations because if not fully healthy, they can’t compete at the highest level. And, in some cases, their injuries are of the nature that prevent them from playing through pain without risk of further injury.

But at the same time, Gruden said Thomas also must find a way to stay healthy.

“It’s a slippery slope. You push them out there, you get out there too quick and you injure the hamstring and you’re back in the same boat, or worse,” Gruden said. “So, it’s important for Phillip to get this thing 100 percent healthy. But he’s got to show us what he can do. There’s no doubt. He’s a lot of the same lines as Chris Thompson. They have promise and are exciting in what they can do. But, we’ve got to see it, and we can’t see it if they’re hurt all the time. So, injuries happen, like I said. We understand that. But we’ve got to find a way to get them healthy and on the field as soon as possible so they can show us.”

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